Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Egypt: Statement by the Egyptian High Elections Commission

The High Elections Commission has issued its assessment of the first round of Egyptian parliamentary elections. The main highlights are as follows:

* Overall, the election was conducted in an orderly and transparent manner in line with the rules of the Egyptian Constitution and law.

* There were a number of irregularities and isolated acts of violence. When the Commission received complaints or reports on these developments, it acted decisively to protect the integrity of the electoral process.

* Complaints and irregularities related to 1,298 ballot boxes out of a total of 89,588, therefore impacting only 1.4% of ballot boxes, all of which were invalidated by the Commission.

* These attempts at fraud, regrettable as they are, did not constitute widespread vote rigging.

* The Commission received a number of complaints regarding unreasonable denial of access to polling stations. In these cases, when observers or media members were still present at the voting center at the time the Commission received the complaint, it intervened directly and enabled them to observe the balloting process.

* The Commission accredited an unprecedented number of 6,130 observers, which is equivalent to nearly two-thirds the number of the actual polling centers.

* The Commission accredited all 498 international media that applied to cover the balloting and vote counting process.

* The Commission will seek to conduct the second round of election in the same diligent manner in line with the Constitution and law, with full transparency and undertaking all the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

"While the results of the first round of voting in the People's Assembly elections are being certified by the Chairman of the High Elections Commission, I would like to make a statement regarding the conduct of the elections as a whole – particularly, in light of inaccurate allegations.

The High Elections Commission has worked diligently to ensure that the balloting and the vote counting were conducted in line with the rules of the Egyptian Constitution and law. Its objectives were clear: to ensure that the will of the Egyptian electorate was reflected in the results, to provide a platform for fair competition between the candidates, and to earn the confidence of Egyptian people by ensuring the transparency and integrity of the process.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that the electoral process, as a whole, was orderly in the vast majority of polling stations, the harsh competition between certain candidates in a number of districts led to attempts to use illegitimate means to thwart the will of the voters, and impact the final results in their favor. When the Commission received complaints or reports on these developments, it acted decisively to protect the integrity of the electoral process.

In the course of the voting on November 28, the Commission received a number of complaints about irregularities from diverse sources.

These complaints and allegations of violations related, in general, to four main types, as follows:

Violence

Violence occurred in 16 districts, perpetrated by thugs and supporters in an effort to impact the results of the electoral process. These incidents had a number of impacts on the electoral processes beyond threatening the lives and welfare of the voters, by-standers and electoral officials, including:

* Temporarily interrupting the balloting process and making it impossible for voters to cast their ballots. In these cases, police services quickly intervened to restore order and protect the public.
* In the Samanoud School Voting Center, a number of candidates' supporters discharged firearms, causing police to close polling station to protect the lives of electoral officials and voters. Once order had been restored, the polling station re-opened at 12:50PM.
* The most blatant example of this type of breach of electoral law was in fire caused by a number of candidate supporters at the headquarters of the District Electoral Committee of Baila. In response to this act, the District Electoral Committee canceled the election in the district and postponed the results of the women's district.

Compromising ballot boxes and election materials

In these cases the District Electoral Committees, at the direction of the High Elections Commission, invalidated the compromised ballot boxes immediately and did not include them in the final results.

* Reports of ballot box stuffing were received in "Ma'mal Al-Zogag" and "Naswh Al-Bahary" polling centers in Kafr El-Dawar, which led opponents' supporters to attack the polling centers. In response, the Judge-Chairperson of the District Electoral Committee intervened and invalidated the ballot boxes.

Attempted Fraud

The Commission and its District Committees discovered and investigated a number of reports of attempts at fraud, including stuffing ballot boxes. In all cases where reports were found to be credible, the Commission and its District Committees invalidated these compromised ballot boxes without hesitation. In total, the Commission invalidated 1,053 ballot boxes.

The Commission wishes to reiterate that all ballot boxes that were compromised were invalidated and played no part in the final results of this election.

Candidate Representatives Access to Electoral Committees

There were numbers of reports and complaints regarding representatives of candidates being unable to enter polling stations.

Upon investigation of these complaints by the High Elections Commission and its subsidiary bodies, it was found that the vast majority of these cases involved representatives of candidates who were not registered voters in the district -- a requirement to be granted access to polling stations. Nonetheless, there were a number cases where properly accredited representatives of candidates were denied access to polling stations. In these cases, the Commission intervened to enable them to observe the balloting process.

Access Denials to Egyptian Civil Society Observers and Media

In preparing for this election, the Commission insisted on maximum transparency. The Commission accredited an unprecedented number of 6,130 observers, which is equivalent to nearly two-thirds the number of the actual polling centers. It also facilitated access by thousands of Egyptian journalists and broadcasters from public and private media. In addition, it accredited all 498 international media that applied to cover the balloting and vote counting process.

Nonetheless, the Commission received a number of complaints regarding unreasonable denial of access to polling stations. In these cases, when observers or media members were still present at the voting center at the time the Commission received the complaint, it intervened directly and enabled them to observe the balloting process.

The Commission deeply regrets these irregularities, but is nevertheless satisfied that they did not affect the integrity of the first round of the election."

SOURCE Egyptian Press and Information Office

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